Happy Birthday, Alan Turing

Today is Alan Turing’s birthday, and I felt that I should write something to honor it. Unfortunately, I haven’t been much in the writing mood. So this is me writing in the moment. This is actually a piece that I wrote earlier but I’ve edited with new text. I felt like I didn’t do a good job explaining some things.

Why Do I Love Turing?

I’ve never answered this question on this blog. I feel it is rather late to get into the specifics. Maybe my previous blogs speak for themselves but I thought it was worth tackling here. I talk a lot about Hardy and it may seem that my love of Turing is less authentic. It is more than real and that is why I’m working on a children’s book about him.

One of the most important incidents of my life was taking a class on Theory of Mind. It is this clusterf*ck of philosophy, cognitive psychology, and computer science. I loved all of it although I don’t remember much. It was this course where I was first introduced to Alan Turing over a discussion of the Turing Test.

I become obsessed with ideas for strategies to pass the Turing Test. I was convinced that it was possible if one was able to use the judge’s cognitive biases. Basically, through manipulating the judges you could convince that any errors in the program weren’t errors but within context they would excuse them and make up their own reasons for why that was so.

This actually happened. It was a huge kerfuffle with people saying a chat bot had passed the test. It was announced on many of the major tech blogs. Of course, you have to look past the sensationalist headlines.

Though, I agree this method is cheating. But, it does reveal how our brains can be tricked with just a few suggestions changing our perceptions. Which is one of the reasons why I think more people should learn the basics of cognitive psychology.

Computers That Think

I think it is this interest in the Turing Test that leaves me with a love of films like “Her.” I recently watched this film which explores a man who falls in love with his AI assistant. Over time, the AI becomes more advanced until they evolve to a higher plane of existence leaving behind their human. It is an interesting look at love and ultimately reveals much about the human condition. These lines from the movie stay with me.

Theodore: I’ve never loved anyone the way I loved you.

Samantha: Me too. Now we know how.

I think we all have a love like that. We change with each person that we love hoping that this is the one that lasts. Um, relationships are hard.

I am not an expert on this topic. People talk about the singularity and such and I can’t say I understand it all. Like many sci-fi authors, I am intrigued by the idea of a super intelligence. Even more so, I am enticed by the idea of an AI gaining consciousness.

There are people who argue this topic and it is dense with ideas for and against the possibility. I am not going to run down them here in the fear that I might misinform people over research that I don’t understand myself. That’s why I have re-written this article. I felt that I didn’t do the topic justice.

But I will say, we don’t really understand what consciousness is right now. So applying that theoretically to anything else is difficult. I do find it interesting though as technology moves forward that it seeks to replicate the mind.

I will re-link to this video from VSAUCE on consciousness. It is a good place to start.

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